Quoted – Sears/Kmart offers to rent Valley stores

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n an unusual move, the owner of Sears and Kmart is publicly seeking out additional businesses to operate in its stores, including several Valley locations.

Sears Holdings Corp. launched a website earlier this year detailing information about store locations available to rent — in both closed stores and ones still open.

Five Valley stores show up on http://www.shcrealty.com as places the company would welcome new businesses operating within the existing stores. They include Kmart stores in Clovis, Coalinga and Kingsburg, and Sears stores and their auto centers in Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis and Manchester Center in Fresno.

“Traditionally when retailers look to do things like this, they usually do it quietly,” said Scott Testa, a professor who follows the retail business at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “The idea that they would do this in a public forum … is in some ways very unique.”

New tenants could locate within a current store — either a cart or a shop — or in another empty space in a Sears Holdings-owned shopping center.

“It’s basically letting people know that in these locations we have some extra space,” said Sears Holdings spokeswoman Kim Freely. “If the partnership makes sense, we could make some additional retail space available for other vendors.”

Freely used the example of Edwin Watts Golf Shops, which is opening 12 shops inside Sears stores around the country.

It’s not unusual for stores to open within larger stores — think Starbucks inside Target or Sephora’s recent appearance inside J.C. Penney stores.

Although not typical, Sears’ real-estate website is just another form of marketing, said Walter Smith, senior vice president of Grubb & Ellis/ Pearson Commercial realty firm in Fresno.

“They’re just helping to make sure they get as much exposure as possible,” he said.

Sears owns many of the properties its stores are in, Smith said.

When billionaire investor and Kmart chairman Edward Lampert bought Sears and merged the two companies in 2005, Wall Street analysts expected the new company to make money selling valuable locations.

The real estate crash prevented that, however, and Sears Holdings was stuck with 3,900 full-line and specialty stores. The company closed 60 underperforming stores in 2009, but remains a company “that is struggling to find its way,” competing against heavy hitters like Target and Walmart, Testa said.

Testa said the website could be a way for the company to find out if it can make more money leasing to another retailer instead of operating a Sears or Kmart, but Freely from Sears Holdings said that is not the intent.

Smith and representatives from Sierra Vista and Sears Holdings all said no deals for new stores inside Sears or Kmart stores in the Valley had been finalized.

But, said Smith, “it could be happening in our market, and that’s OK.”

http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/stock-alert/kmrt_shld_sears/kmart-offers-to-rent-valley-stores-980973.html

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Quoted – National initial jobless claims fall for second straight week; Illinois’ claims rise

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The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment benefits last week fell 10,000 from the week prior, its second straight week of decline, as the economy continues its flirtation with expansion.  Initial jobless claims for Illinois increased, however, as the state’s employment picture remained dreary.

The advanced seasonally adjusted amount of initial jobless claims was 453,000 for the week ended May 29, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday, down 10,000 from the previous week’s revised figure. That was slightly lower than economists surveyed by Bloomberg LP were expecting.

“This is going to be a long-term trend,” stressed Scott Testa, professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia.  Testa was hesitant to draw positive conclusions from this week’s report, suggesting employers are unlikely to boost their hiring until 2011.  “Very little hiring gets done during the summer,” he said, though he expects a hiring “uptick” in January and February.

The residential real estate market is still hurting, Testa said, and housing “touches a lot of points in the economy,” since it is indicative of consumer confidence and spending.

Yet, the retail industry is showing some positive signs, Testa said.  “The real litmus test is going to be the holiday season shopping,” he said.

Quarterly data on jobless claims is a stronger indication of the employment outlook, Testa asserted, because weekly numbers are constantly being revised.

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=166271

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Quoted – The Ladies’ Turn – Wall Street Journal

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The Ladies’ Turn

When it comes to house hunting, Kim Sliney is the first to admit she can be picky. The 46-year-old interior designer just couldn’t see herself living in small, chopped-up rooms. Or being happy in boxy interiors adorned with blah bathroom tiles and Formica counters. After visiting—and vetoing—37 houses, the single mom from Exeter, R.I., happened upon her just-right fit: a newly built, $350,000 home that boasted a spacious-feeling layout, killer walk-in closets and custom details like crown molding, granite countertops and a gas fireplace—for no extra charge. How did she stumble into this particular development? She was driving around in the area and saw a woman-centric sign on the entrance. “It was very intriguing,” says Ms. Sliney.

Men may think they run the world, but it’s women who are now getting the royal treatment from the housing industry. Indeed, say housing market watchers, builders are now strenuously working to win the hearts—and checkbooks—of female buyers. And with the economy punishing the sexes unevenly, single women have become an especially important force to be reckoned with in real estate. According to the National Association of Realtors, they now sign on the dotted line in nearly a quarter of all U.S. home deals—up from 14% in 1995.

And home hassles aside, skeptics say some of the marketing flurry around women is half-baked. Part of the problem, says Scott Testa, a marketing professor at Cabrini College, is that the real estate industry has been a late adopter of modern marketing techniques. Its fairly recent desire to learn what customers want simply leads to better design—like kitchens opening up into family rooms—which isn’t necessarily woman-centric. “More people like open design,” Mr. Testa says. “Whether that’s a woman preference, I don’t know that as a fact.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304871704575160112777930360.html?mod=WSJ_Commercial_sections_BuyingAndSelling

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Quoted – Eggs With That Escrow? – Hartford Business Journal

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Eggs With That Escrow?

One day soon, finding a real estate agent to help you house-shop may be as close as a Stop & Shop supermarket. While you’re there to grab some bread and a head of lettuce, you’ll be able to shop for a spacious colonial or renovated ranch, courtesy of the ‘micro offices’ real estate brokerage RE/MAX is installing in as many as 17 New England Stop & Shops, including one in Connecticut.

uch retail partnerships provide consumers the opportunity to conveniently purchase items and services they use regularly, said Scott Testa, marketing expert and business professor at Cabrini College in Philadelphia.

But the partnership between RE/MAX and Stop & Shop is is a bit odd, Testa said.

“Common sense says there’s not as much use for a real estate agency,” he said. “It’s not like a bank where consumers have transactions a couple of times a week. Consumers use a real estate agent maybe once every two or three years.”

Despite that, Testa said he can see consumers browsing listings if they are displayed in a way that doesn’t necessarily require interaction with a real estate agent.

“It’s all in how it’s presented,” he said.

http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/news12029.html

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Quoted – When A Homeowner’s Best Move Is Turning Over The Keys – Forbes

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When A Homeowner’s Best Move Is Turning Over The Keys

If the lousy economy has got you struggling to make your mortgage payments, there’s a good chance you’ve entertained at least a passing fantasy about turning in the keys and closing the door on your housing woes.
One group that has caught on to the financial sense of walking away is retirees. Some elderly homeowners who borrowed against homes in the Northeast to buy second ones in Florida have been allowing their older homes to fall into foreclosure, notes Scott Testa, a business professor at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. That strategy makes sense, however, because Florida’s homestead exemption law prevents creditors from forcing the sale of in-state properties.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/01/homeowner-foreclosure-keys-personal-finance-real-estate-advisor.html?boxes=Homepagelighttop

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